Shropshire’s Head of Academy Ian Roe insists the county’s talented group of young cricketers have the ability to challenge for regular first-team places.
Shropshire played what will be their only Academy fixture this year when they met Herefordshire’s 2nd XI in a 50-over friendly at Shifnal on Sunday.
The visitors ultimately ran out winners by four wickets, but Roe highlighted several positives, including an impressive bowling and fielding display from a Shropshire side captained by Charlie Home.
Roe said: “The Academy side selected to face Herefordshire and the current senior squad is very similar in age.
“If the lads on show in this game stick together and keep working hard they can be the glue of the senior squad in the next two or three years.
“Some of them already have first-team experience of representing Shropshire in the Championship, but the majority are coming through the Shropshire cricketing pathway into the pyramid of playing for the Academy and then pushing for a place in the senior squad.
“It was a shame we didn’t get over the line victorious, but, again, it was a very worthwhile exercise, as all of the friendly fixtures for the senior squad have also been this season.”
Shropshire elected to bat and, having slipped to 65-6, then rallied before eventually being bowled out for 157 off the final ball of the 44th over.
Bridgnorth’s Ben Lees, the Shropshire wicketkeeper, top scored with 33 while there were also contributions down the order from Luke Thornton (26) and Sam Ellis (20no). Skipper Home earlier made 24.
Chris Steele was the pick of the Herefordshire attack, returning figures of 4-33, and Connor Smith claimed 2-8.
Herefordshire, in reply, responded with 161-6, reaching their target at the end of the 40th over.
The visitors were well served by Alex Hinkley as, batting at three, he compiled a match-winning, unbeaten 86, facing 111 balls and hitting nine fours and a six. Luke Tulacz, who made 20, was the next highest scorer.
Sentinel’s David Laird took 2-30 from 10 overs while there was a wicket apiece for Ellis, Ben Parker, Peter Clark and Matty Simmonds.
“The difference between the sides was that Alex Hinkley scored big for Herefordshire,” said Roe. “Our top score was 33 and one of the top four has got to score big and be supported to set challenging totals or to chase totals down – but the lads are learning all the time.
“Ben Lees batted beautifully and Peter Clark and Charlie Home both got starts in the top order, with Peter showing his quality with both bat and ball.
“The likes of Sam Ellis and Luke Thornton batted a lot lower down that they do for their clubs and they did a great job to take us from 65-6 up to 157, a competitive score which gave us something to bowl at.
“The positives I could take from the game was again our bowling and fielding, which was very disciplined.
“I was delighted for David Laird as it was his type of surface. The ball skidded on and came on to the batsman a bit quicker than anticipated. Having Ben Lees standing up to him put pressure on the batsmen and they had to stay in their crease.
“Sam Baugh bowled well again and Ben Parker had a good rhythm. He’s getting better and better and is maturing as a cricketer.
“The fielding was again very good and we have worked hard at fielding during warm ups and winter training.
“We thank Shifnal for hosting the game. We were looked after very well and also thank you to the supporters who came along to watch on a lovely day when we were certainly blessed with the weather.”
Pictured: Shropshire Academy looking for runs during Sunday’s friendly against Herefordshire’s 2nd XI at Shifnal.